An Investment in start-up Accelerist

The Southwest Angel Network is pleased to announce that it has led the investment in Accelerist. Accelerist is the industry’s only matchmaking and measurement platform for companies and causes. The relationship between companies and social causes is powerful. Accelerist believes profit and purpose partnerships mean too much in today’s world to leave it to chance and circumstance. Through a deep data-driven approach, the Accelerist platform helps companies find the right partners and measure their impact on the company’s mission, stakeholders and bottom line. Accelerist’s company name previously was Catalist.

Accelerist was co-founded by and is led by CEO Brittany Hill. As a data seeker and trend translator, Brittany specializes in using analytics and innovations to connect companies and causes to do more good in the world. Brittany leads the product and business development efforts at Accelerist – the online matchmaking platform for companies and causes. As a nonprofit entrepreneur, Brittany is behind some of the industry’s newest products and tools that help nonprofits elevate their mission.

Brittany’s extensive background in the nonprofit and agency supports her vision for nonprofit innovations. Mrs. Hill has built multi-channel partnerships and award-winning campaigns with some of the most notable blue-chip nonprofit organizations (American Heart Association, UNICEF, Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, Make-A-Wish International) and corporate brands (Pepsico, General Mills, Hasbro, Best Buy).

An Investment in start-up company Family Plan

The Southwest Angel Network has made an investment in Family Plan, which works to reduce the stress on a family following a divorce.  Using Family Plan, parents can manage custody scheduling on a shared calendar in real time, arrange and make payments instantaneously and with authentication, and make and log texts and emails to support open communication and maintain a reliable record. No other mobile app provides this suite of functions. This app has been developed with input from a team of divorced parents, divorce lawyers, and ex-judges to address both an important social need and a large market opportunity.

Family Plan was founded and is led by Mark and Laura MacMahon, from Maine, who founded the company for the same reason many companies are founded – they had a problem they wanted to solve, and the available solutions just weren’t good enough. In the years after Mark’s divorce, he found that he was spending hours a week just trying to stay on top of managing his schedule, finances, and communications all related to the kids. Mark and Laura decided to build a set of tools that would help families thrive after a breakup – reducing conflict along the way.

Supporting Austin Title 1 High-school Students

Members of the Southwest Angel Network were mentors in the recently completed Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Superstars Competition. This program helps students at five Austin Title 1 high schools to develop start-up company business plans and presentation skills.

At the recent city-wide final competition, our network awarded the Social-Impact award to Maria Hernandez and Lizett Abrego, pictured below. They are students at the Travis Early College High School.  

At our May 9th dinner pitch event, in addition to hearing the normal company pitches, Maria and Lizett will be presenting us their business plan for their company “Hope”.

Furthermore, our network has raised a college scholarship fund through the recent Amplify Austin giving day, and we will present the scholarship to Maria and Lizett at the meeting.

The Southwest Angel Network is not your ordinary angel network. We care deeply about social-impact and we strongly support diverse management teams. And yes, we also seek to make a return on our investments.

 

Our network in the news – South by Social

Amy Bell writes that not only is Austin all about SXSW but Austin is also the capital of impact entrepreneurship.

“This time of year, people from all over the country don their best hipster duds, dust off their cowboy boots and descend on Austin, Texas, for SXSW (pro tip: just call it “South by”).

The smorgasbord of panels, films, events and concerts every spring has elevated Austin’s national reputation as a hub for technology, breakfast tacos, and great craft beer. But visitors might miss Austin’s year-round vibe as an emerging center of enterprise-driven social innovation.

Long a hub for technology innovation — starting with the founding of Dell in 1984 — Austin is now also a hub for social innovation. The city’s economic and population growth over the last two decades has given rise to a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem. The city’s progressive culture and community obsession with supporting small business (“keep Austin weird”), has a long history of creating socially-minded business — Austin did, after all, birth Whole Foods.

Many of the city’s entrepreneurs are bent on building organizations that will change the world for the better.”

 

“Efficacy” is my new favorite, social-impact word

From the desk of Bob Bridge.

Efficacy is defined as “the ability to produce a desired or intended result”.

It is often used to describe the effectiveness of pharmaceuticals. Does this drug demonstrate the expected impact on a certain disease? And is the drug effective in a large percentage of the treated patients?

The Southwest Angel Network, which focuses on social-impact companies, sees many companies who are working earnestly and diligently to address significant societal or environmental challenges. The questions that I ask of the companies include, “Can you provide evidence of the impact-efficacy of your product or service?” and “What is the magnitude of your impact on society?”

For example, most of us would agree that early STEM education for diverse populations is beneficial to society. Such training should increase the lifetime earning of those diverse individuals who are today under-represented in technology fields. And technology companies should benefit by having a larger and more diverse employee pool to draw from.

Consider a company that comes to us waving the STEM impact flag. They state that their STEM education lab tools are significantly cheaper than those of their competitors, and so our network should fund them. Our requests include:

  • Please show us evidence that your product offering has higher efficacy in terms of improving educational outcomes compared to competing products. When a market segment has many competing products to choose from, what is the impact on educational outcomes of adding one more product to the mix?
  • One requirement for having a significant impact on STEM educational outcomes is being able to have a company’s offering adopted by the largest possible number of classrooms. So please show us evidence us that your sales plan has efficacy in terms of penetrating the tough-to-sell-to education market.

Consider a company that comes to us and states that they can reduce prescription medication prices for low-income individuals, allowing millions of individuals to pay for the medications that they need. What a wonderful idea! The efficacy question is, “Can you reduce the prices far enough to actually enable significantly more people to pay for their meds?”

Consider a company that comes to us and states that they can improve financial security in retirement for people who are today in their 50s. They accomplish this by offering a comprehensive and well-thought-out online retirement planning tool. Efficacy questions include:

  • Do you have evidence that your tools change the spending, savings and/or investment behaviors of your tool users? Without a change in behavior, there is no societal impact.
  • Consumers today have a wide range of retirement products and services available to them. Can you demonstrate that your tools have higher efficacy than the plethora of competing options in terms of improving financial retirement outcomes?
  • After you have demonstrated that your tools have high efficacy, can you now please describe the efficacy of your go-to-market plan? If not many folks use your tools the overall social-impact is small.

Bob Bridge, Executive Director

National recognition for the Southwest Angel Network

Bob Bridge, the angel network’s Executive Director, has been recognized nationally as a leader in social impact investing. Bob recently served on a Social Impact panel at the recent national ACA  Leadership Conference in Houston. Bob has also been invited to moderate a panel discussion on “The Growth of Impact Investing” program at the ACA’s April national Summit in Boston.

Investments now total over $1M

With a follow-on investment in OneSeventeen Media and an initial investment in College Consortium, the Southwest Angel Network has now made over $1M in cumulative investments since its founding at the beginning of 2016.

The Southwest Angel Network has invested in College Consortium

College Consortium, led by a highly experienced team,  provides tools that allow colleges to offer students more course offerings, allowing students to graduate in a shorter time, at lower cost and with less student debt. College Consortium can be especially impactful for students whose life-changes may have discouraged them from finishing their degrees.

The Southwest Angel Network has taken “The Startup Diversity and Inclusion Pledge”

Key elements of the pledge that are most relevant to our angel network are:

  • Taking a self-defined percentage of pitch meetings, starting at 10%, from women, minorities, and people who identify as LGBTQ to help open up new deal sources
  • Mentoring women, minorities and people who identify as LGBTQ
  • Encouraging portfolio companies and their boards to take the pledge

See more details

Our network is excited to invest in On the Dot

The Southwest Angel Network is pleased to announce that it Joined the Central Texas Angel Network in investing in On the Dot. 

On the Dot providens “Your daily dose of inspiration absorbed in less than 4 minutes”, and is the only newsletter of its kind that, at the click of a button, lets you listen to the latest news, stories, and commentary about women in business while focusing on your morning routine.

The launch of the OnTheDot newsletter in April 2016 was not Melinda Garvey’s first foray into the publishing world. Nearly 14 years ago, she gave birth to her first child, Austin Woman magazine, then six years later to her human child, Beckom. Now it’s back to diapers and sleepless nights with this new baby, OnTheDot. Motherhood, in all its forms, suits her just fine.

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